Maintenance Neglect Gets Transport Boss 14 Years in Jail

This recent ruling of the South Australian Supreme Court is essential for all
transport and logistics managers, CEO’s and Owners to read.

In 2015 an Adelaide trucking company boss was jailed having been found guilty of manslaughter over the death of driver Robert Brimson in March 2014.

The ABC then reported:

Mr Brimson took action to avoid heavy traffic on Main South Road at Happy Valley in the moments before his truck slammed into a pole.

A jury also convicted him of endangering the life of another driver, Shane Bonham, two days before the fatal crash.

The Supreme Court heard Colbert was repeatedly warned about the truck’s faulty brakes.



Colbert appealed the decision which was heard recently before three judges sitting as the Court of Criminal Appeal, ATN reported that in findings recently released, the judges unanimously rejected the contentions of the appeal, namely that:

  • his 12-year sentence was excessive;
  • the sentencing judge failed to place adequate weight on his physical and mental health issues;
  • the sentencing judge erred in placing excessive weight on his 1996 convictions for rape.

The maximum penalty for endangering life is 15 years and for manslaughter it is life imprisonment.

Colbert was sentenced to five years for the former and nine years for the latter, with a non-parole period of eight years and 11 months further reduced by 18 months to account for time spent in custody and on home detention bail.



In this case, it appears Colbert’s legal team were trying to use his “Mental and physical health issues” to reduce the charges.  However, the judges noted that the health issues “were not of great significance in the scheme of things”.

A psychologists “tentative diagnosis” was apparently that Colbert met the diagnostic criteria for “narcissistic personality disorder with paranoid traits” and with the evidence at hand, Colbert’s refusal to get the truck’s brakes fixed represented a “Misplaced sense of arrogance and self-confidence, whilst minimising the concerns of others.”


Take note of this important comment from the original judges:

“Heavily Laden Vehicles compete Daily with non-commerical traffic on busy roads.”

 “The Consequences of Driving an unsafe Heavy Vehice can be horrendous as is demonstrated by the mass destruction in this case.”

“The Sentence should plainly indicate to an operator of a Heavy Vehicle that safety cannot be sacrificed for financial reasons.”



Whilst, in this case, the personality of the perpetrator may seem to be somewhat extreme, however, this type of neglect or maintenance oversight can effectively occur for a wide range of other reasons, but the liability on governance never goes away.

Adequate and timely maintenance is an important part of the Chain of Responsibility legislation, and this overturned Appeal serves to demonstrate how seriously our judicial system (rightly) treats a case of blatant neglect like this.

It is a sobering reminder to any T&L manager, Exec, or Director of the possible criminal repercussions where “every reasonable measure” cannot or has not been demonstrated – with the emphasis on the importance of being able to demonstrate evidence

If you need assistance with ensuring your company is compliant with CoR law, please contact us here.